Defence Personnel have been saying for years about their problems with PTSD, Depression and Sleep Disorders. Over the years we have seen many medical treatments provided some with success and some without. These debilitating conditions cause chronic problems like nightmares, panic attacks, hypervigilance, detachment from others, overwhelming emotions, and self-destructive behaviour. We put these people into extreme conditions and then just expect for them to simply fit back into society.
Current talk going round in the defence community is the alternative use of medical cannabis to aid with these symptoms, so I thought I’d get a firsthand look into this world and find out for myself. Rather than write a piece just using my own words I thought best approach would be with me talking little as possible and leaving the talking up to actual victims and medical professionals. While research on the topic has been rather inconclusive many PTSD patients continue to report that cannabis does help.
In this editorial we speak with individuals experiencing trauma and depression and get a firsthand look at their situation and what they go through and how they deal with it as well as medical opinion.
Our first interview is with Gareth Jones, an Australian Army Staff Sergeant, Ret.
I started my military career on 23rd September 1980 and was Medically Discharged on 30th August 1997 upon completion of basic training at 1 RTB, Gareth says,
I was allocated to the Royal Australian Army Ordinance Corp as a Clerk Technical (Operator Supply) now in Foodstuffs/POL/Ammunition. On my discharge I was a Staff Sergeant having also qualified as an Inspector Foodstuffs and Work Study Operator. During my service I served mostly in Combat Supplies Platoon where I was detached to many Units such as Infantry Artillery and Amour to support them on their various Unit Field activities and in fact had an Infantry Sergeant ask what I did as I spent more time in the field, they he did. Over the years I have witnessed death on the so called Pucka straight at Puckapunyal and the death of personnel in the field in vehicle accidents. Every death is a loss. Since leaving the Defence Force I completed a Diploma in Alcohol and Other Drugs including Mental Health.
PTSD creeps up on personnel triggered by a single event or multiple events some seen some unseen it’s very hard to determine a single event which commenced this evil ride, I have the support of my wife on this journey she has seen the good times and the evil times the medicated times the unmedicated times. Doctors like medication like Oxycotin and Targin and Lyrica these doses start small and when they fail the doctors simply increase them until you are in the Zombie Zone unable to function like a human being. Having completed the Diploma helped along with my wife to come off the S8 drugs and only take Panamax Co and Panadiine Forte along with a Dr that also doesn’t believe in S8 Medication. Like all alternate medicine mainstream medical personnel don’t like changing for the prescribed S8 drugs. Medical Cannabis has that persona that if you use it you will get HIGH but it’s not the case these are the uneducated people throwing spanners into alternative medications maybe if it was called something different who knows how it would be accepted then. The nightmares are hard to avoid and this in turn goes with the lack of sleep, but you can adapt and overcome this with time and patience.
Medical Cannabis is so hard to obtain at least in my area you must find a doctor that can prescribe it, you must retell your story to them, then they want to start the whole process over again before they reach the conclusion yes Medical Cannabis is right for you. I don’t doctor hop I have seen the same GP for 15+years and the same Orthopaedic Surgeon for the 20+ years. Why should I have to retell every livid moment and very drug I have tried to get Medical Cannabis just because it’s an Alternative Medicine not an S8 Drug Company supplied product. I have listed conditions at DVA as a below knee amputation, compartment syndrome of other leg, knee replacements, hip replacement lower back rods and cages, thoracic spine crushed, cervical spine cages and both shoulders tendon replacements along with other conditions. There needs to be a lot more awareness of the good this product can do for the mental health of veterans but unfortunately we are still a long way off this path.
I personally have not tried Medical Cannabis but have friends that are on it, and it has improved their quality of life. Every person is different and if down the track the medication I am currently using become less effective then I will certainly research the use of Medical Cannabis and speak to my GP about it. I don’t believe that you should have to see another doctor to be prescribed Medical Cannabis, but my GP said it is so hard to get registered why do it when I have enough work now.
Having completed my Diploma, I would encourage any Veteran who is currently using lots of S8 medication to at least research and speak to their GP about Medical Cannabis. Alternative medicine has been around for centuries it’s just that the drug companies have become so powerful that reverting to alternative medicines is not profitable to them and they discourage the registration of these medicines by lobbying Governments.
Our second interview is with US Special Operations/Green Beret Soldier Don Scott, also now the Ambassador for the Green Beret Foundation. The Green Berets are geared towards certain doctrinal missions: unconventional warfare, foreign internal defence, direct action, counterterrorism, counter insurgency, weapons of mass destruction, hostage rescue, information operations and a host of other services and activities, with impeccability. They conduct themselves at the very frontline, they see and experience things in combat that no other human being should ever see, and these experiences leave a lifelong scare.
Don has sleeping problems associated with extreme combat situation and memories associated with such events and experiences. He tried several different treatments, but none seem to work for him, losing hope in ever getting better his doctor suggested Medical Cannabis as an alternative. A veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars along with undisclosed encounters, Don immediately found relief and was able to establish a traditional sleeping patter again, he now owns his own company and has found a level road and mental stability again using Medical Cannabis.
The Green Berets are geared towards certain doctrinal missions: unconventional warfare, foreign internal defence, direct action, counterterrorism, counter insurgency, weapons of mass destruction, hostage rescue, information operations and a host of other services and activities, with impeccability. They conduct themselves at the very frontline, they see and experience things in combat that no other human being should ever see, and these experiences leave a lifelong scare.
Don has used both CBD and THC gummies to help with sleep issues and found this to be most effective.
For a medical perspective we ask, Dr Geoff Cutter.
Dr Geoff Cutter is a trusted Medicinal Cannabis Expert and Integrative Physician who migrated to Australia from UK in 1983 “for a one-year Locum in Bourke NSW…….and stayed.” Trained at St Thomas’ Hospital, London his experience in Australia has been divided between 15 years in Emergency and Acute Medicine and Remote and Rural General Practice across Australia. In 2019 , he discovered the ECS and Medicinal Cannabis. He trained in his new field and established his own Boutique Teleclinic based on the Queensland Sunshine Coast, the MMHS Teleclinic (1300 098 706) covers Australia.
Dr Geoff (as his clients know him) is a member of the Association of Cannabinoid Specialists and of the ANZ College of Cannabis Physicians. His interests within the cannabis field are Cancer and Palliative Care, Chronic Health diseases, Sleep Disorders, and Mental Health.
Quotable quotes: ” I’ve had an exciting and varied medical career but without doubt, medicinal cannabis and what it can achieve has proved to be the most satisfying and professionally rewarding”.
“The ability of medicinal cannabis to facilitate a vast improvement in someone’s quality of life has been demonstrated and confirmed in published research studies and is borne out by my own experience.”
“Cannabis IS Medicine – Individualised Medicine.” “The Breadth and Depth of what cannabis can achieve is remarkable. ”
Dr Geoff at MMHS Teleclinic : 1300 089 706
It’s truly wonderful to see soldiers who have done their duty for their country and who have put their lives on the line receive the appropriate treatment and help to get their lives back together on track and regain their appropriate place in the civilian community with companies like ICANNDISTRUTION and Elevated Extracts playing an active role in supporting and supplying the medical cannabis industry throughout Australia and organisations like The Department of Veteran Affairs assisting those Veterans in need of help.
Story by John Moody.
images L-R US Special Forces Operative Don Scott, Australian Army Officer Gareth Jones.